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First Twitter, now Snapchat: Trump’s war on social media has a new target

Trump’s team attacked “radical Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel” in a dramatic escalation of its fight with Silicon Valley.

Evan Spiegel speaks onstage in 2018.
Evan Spiegel, Snap’s CEO, is now in the crosshairs of Donald Trump.

Donald Trump’s campaign expanded its war against Silicon Valley tech companies on Wednesday to include Snapchat, blasting the platform for taking some of the most aggressive measures yet to curtail Trump’s incendiary rhetoric.

Snapchat’s parent company, Snap, on Wednesday said that it would stop promoting Trump’s campaign account on its Discover tab, which has been a strategic priority for Trump to reach the younger voters who are Snapchat’s core audience. That decision provoked a searing statement from Trump’s campaign manager and instantly made Snapchat and its CEO a flashpoint in the escalating fight between Trump and tech.

“Snapchat is trying to rig the 2020 election, illegally using their corporate funding to promote Joe Biden and suppress President Trump,” Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale said in a statement. “Snapchat hates that so many of their users watch the President’s content and so they are actively engaging in voter suppression. If you’re a conservative, they do not want to hear from you, they do not want you to vote. They view you as a deplorable and they do not want you to exist on their platform.”

Snap declined to comment on the attack. Trump will still exist on the Snapchat platform, and his account will continue to be findable through a search. The president has 1.5 million followers on Snapchat, a base that has tripled over the last eight months, according to Bloomberg.

“We will not amplify voices who incite racial violence and injustice by giving them free promotion on Discover,” Snap said earlier on Wednesday. “Racial violence and injustice have no place in our society and we stand together with all who seek peace, love, equality, and justice in America.”

The back and forth puts Snap’s founder, Evan Spiegel, in political crosshairs for the first time. Spiegel — a 29-year-old, soft-spoken, product-minded chief executive who is not known as particularly ideological or political — even earned a nickname from Parscale: “Radical Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel.”

In recent days, Spiegel has shared some of his most extensive political commentary to date. In a 2,000-word memo to employees over the weekend, Spiegel said that “the American experiment is failing” and called for higher taxes along with possible reparations to be paid to the African American community.

He also, though, conspicuously did not mention Trump’s name a single time in those 2,000 words — possibly an attempt to sidestep the confrontation that he has now nevertheless triggered.

Snap is the latest social media company to wade into the choppy waters of determining how to regulate Trump’s comments on race. Snap’s principal competitor, Facebook, has stuck to the point of view that Trump’s recent posts do not incite violence. Twitter, meanwhile, has shown a new willingness to fact-check and limit the reach of Trump’s tweets.

And in what was a cautionary tale for Spiegel and Snap, Twitter has been blasted by Trump aides. Facebook has been celebrated.

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